Improving the page on "Right to water" (human right to water and sanitation) on Wikipedia

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Improving the page on "Right to water" (human right to water and sanitation) on Wikipedia
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TOPIC: Improving the page on "Right to water" (human right to water and sanitation) on Wikipedia

muench - 15 Sep 2015 09:19
Improving the page on "Right to water" (human right to water and sanitation) on Wikipedia
On Wikipedia there is a page called "Right to water" which deals with what we call the "Human right to water and sanitation".
I recently came across it and asked Ricard Gene* if he thought it was any good. Here is what Ricard replied (I have also added that to the talk page of the article):

- I would mention in the title and integrate in the text the right to sanitation
- In terms of contents, my feeling is that the description of the normative and cross-cutting criteria is not clear ... not sure if a more detailed description would help the reader better understand the scope / content of this HHRR. Similarly, no specific mention is made in relation to the concept of progressive realisation. And the issues of "right-holders" and "duty-bearers" are not clearly stated.
- Which have been the criteria when listing the organizations working on the right to water and sanitation? this list could include other relevant organisations, such as COHRE, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Human Rights Programme, UN-Habitat, The Danish Institute, AECID (see for instance, etc.

Perhaps some SuSanA members have an interest in this topic and would take the time to improve the Wikipedia page? Or, if you are a lecturer, how about getting your students involved?
Interestingly, this page was part of an educational assignment by the University of Canterbury/International Human Rights Law in New Zealand, see here:

I still think it is an awesome idea to set up student assignments to improve or create Wikipedia pages.


* Ricard was one of the experts in the thematic discussion on the sanitation ladder, see one of his posts here:
joeturner - 15 Sep 2015 11:11
Re: Improving the page on "Right to water" (human right to water and sanitation) on Wikipedia
I've made a few first changes, particularly in the first lines, to emphasis the importance of the right as a Human Right to Water and Sanitation (HRWS). There is still a lot of work which could be done on the page.
muench - 15 Mar 2017 13:16
Re: Edit-a-thon on 19-20 March (and before) to improve Wikipedia for Public Awareness, Advocacy and Civil Society Engagement - next steps
Dear Abby,

That sounds like a great plan!

The Wikipedia article on "Right to Water" ( is a really important one to get right.

A year and a half ago, I wrote about it on the Forum and Joe Turner reacted, see here:

You could continue discussion in that thread on the forum if you like to get more SuSanA members involved..

One really important issue is that we should consider pushing for a name change of the article. Name changes are not so easy to do and require some concensus. Therefor, I think you should very soon write on the talk page of the article about that. I've written about it here a while ago:

This is what I wrote:

Change article name to "Right to water and sanitation"?[edit source]

I think the name of the article should be changed to "Right to water and sanitation", or "Human right to water and sanitation" (abbreviated as HRWS). I would say the latter is the more commonly used term now. As far as I know, in the international discourse it is now usually "right to water and sanitation". EvM-Susana (talk) 08:09, 15 September 2015 (UTC)

I agree, this seems to me to be ignoring almost entirely the UN declared Right to Sanitation as part of the HRWS. I have changed the first sentence to use the words in the 2010 UN GA statement, but more work needs to be done to discuss properly the theme.

I think other authors have tried here to discuss the whole notion of a "right to water", but in my opinion the UN declaration should be front-and-centre of the article, which therefore should include prominently the right to sanitation. Therefore I believe the page should actually be "Human Right to Water and Sanitation." I can't see a reason why the existing content would not fit within that. JMWt (talk) 08:43, 15 September 2015 (UTC)

I would like to put up again on my suggestion from September 2015 to change the name of this article. If there are no objections within a week or so, I will go ahead (I don't actually know where I have to go to get the article name change done - can anyone advise on that?).EvMsmile (talk) 23:18, 22 February 2017 (UTC)

So as there were no objections since then and if you agree then this name change request could be set in motion now.
Check on Wikipedia help how to change the name of an article. From memory one needs to request it somewhere. I can help with that if needed.


P.S. No need to wait for Sunday 19 March noon GMT if you're really keen, you can already start editing now; we have set up the system that edits mady by people who have registered for the edit-a-thon in Dashboard (like you have) are counted towards outcomes of the event for the whole month of March.
The editors registered so far are shown here:

For those how haven't registered on Outreach Dashboard for the event yet, click here (with your Wikipedia account name):
abrown - 16 Mar 2017 10:32
Re: Edit-a-thon on 19-20 March (and before) to improve Wikipedia for Public Awareness, Advocacy and Civil Society Engagement - next steps
Hi Elisabeth. Thanks for this background. It is essential. I don't want to complicate the issue further, but perhaps there might be a couple ways to move forward with this one: change the name as you suggest and/or create another new page for a human right to sanitation. Here is my understanding.

The UN General Assembly resolution of November 2015 was unique because it was the first to recognize two rights: one for water and one for sanitation. Resolution 7/169 was called "The human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation." With an "s" after human right here.

At the same time, I think if we create two separate pages a lot of the history will have to be repeated on both pages (e.g. the evolution of international recognition to human rights, critiques to human rights framework, etc.). So I vote for your idea of changing the title for now. Let me start researching how to do that in Wikipedia.

Your knowledge/insight are great. If you have other ideas, please feel free to share. You can see our ideas for changes on the working document (in progress). I will also reply to that other SuSanA forum post to see if we can get more people on this page. The more people the better. It would especially be great to have a lawyer or some NGOs working on it.

Best. Abby
abrown - 16 Mar 2017 10:36
Re: Improving the page on "Right to water" (human right to water and sanitation) on Wikipedia
Hi Joe (and anyone else that is interested).

Another person and I are volunteering to edit the Right to Water page on Wikipedia for the SuSanA Edit-a-Thon between March 19th and March 21st. We are looking for others who want to join us on this same page. Would you be interested?

We are organizing our efforts by reading the article and highlighting possible changes to occur on a Google Drive document. Then we are going to meet virtually (she from the United States and myself from France) for a few hours to make those changes on Sunday, March 19th from 18h-21h CET.

If you want to join our little virtual sub-group for this page, just reply to this message.
joeturner - 16 Mar 2017 10:47
Re: Improving the page on "Right to water" (human right to water and sanitation) on Wikipedia
No, but I'd suggest there ought to be some reference to Léo Heller, the current Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation

As a general comment, you might run into problems on wikipedia if you make a very large amount of edits in one go. I'm not sure working on a google doc which you then import into wikipedia is a very good idea.

But I'm not going to be contributing to this edit-a-thon, so good luck with it.
abrown - 16 Mar 2017 11:43
Re: Improving the page on "Right to water" (human right to water and sanitation) on Wikipedia
Hi Joe. Thanks for your comments about making many changes at once. That might be something good to mention to SuSanA - the organizers of the Edit-a-thon. I am just a participant, but imagine that there will be many changes made during the few days of the Edit-a-thon to many pages.

RE: Leo Heller. We agree with you, and previously listed that as an action item on our working document.

Just to clarify, the working document is for our internal use only. We are just using it to work collaboratively (as a team) to identify changes that need to be made to the page. We are not going to import it to Wikipedia. It is, rather, only a collaborative checklist. Perhaps I shouldn't have linked it to my last message? Maybe it was confusing?

Best. Abby
joeturner - 16 Mar 2017 11:49
Re: Improving the page on "Right to water" (human right to water and sanitation) on Wikipedia
My advice would be to edit the page a line at a time. If someone later wants to query or change any para in particular, that can be identified. If you add several paragraphs of text in one go (ie in one edit), you'll probably see it removed quite quickly because that's usually a sign that someone is copy-pasting from elsewhere.

No problem with collaborating on what you're going to be changing, but I'd have thought this is better done on the talkpage.
abrown - 16 Mar 2017 12:06
Re: Improving the page on "Right to water" (human right to water and sanitation) on Wikipedia
Good points. I will share them with the small team. Perhaps we can move some of our background discussions over to the talk page. Thanks.
muench - 16 Mar 2017 12:35
Re: Improving the page on "Right to water" (human right to water and sanitation) on Wikipedia
Thanks, Joe. You're absolutely right to advise against working offline for too long and then copying large pieces of text across into Wikipedia in one go.

Abby: I am so happy that you're going ahead with this. Your Google doc is fine when you collect your initial thoughts with co-workers, but as soon as possible I would say move your deliberations across to the talk page of the article so that other Wikipedians can partake. Here:

I will also write about that later today as my Tip of the Day 5. (have my Tips 1-4 been helpful so far? See here: )

We also mentioned here that saving frequently is really important while working in Wikipedia:

I've looked into changing the title of the Wikipedia article. I think I found out how to do it:
It might be easier if I place this request here (rather than you), as I have already a solid reputation on Wikipedia (article title changes can be controversial and are to be avoided, in general):

It is bound to be uncontroversial as I already wrote about it on the talk page in September 2015 and there have been no objections.

So just to confirm, shall we change it from "Right to water" to
"Human right to water and sanitation"?

I would say yes.
Note that it's easy to place redirects for any alternative names like "Right to water", "Right to sanitation" to the new title.

And I agree with you that a separate article on "Right to sanitation" would not be so useful as there would be too much repetition and overlap with the article on "Right to water" (as you explained here in this post:

abrown - 16 Mar 2017 14:48
Re: Improving the page on "Right to water" (human right to water and sanitation) on Wikipedia
Thanks for sharing this information, Elisabeth. First, please go ahead and change the name (if possible).

Second, I would like to copy my suggestions over to the talk page. That page is actually surprisingly sparse. Do you suggest that I only add a few suggestions at a time for the talk page and/or is that only for the actual edits on the article?

Third, your tips of the day are helpful. I had no idea how much like an enclosed inter-web society Wikipedia was... but I suppose it is necessary to have order there to make sure these articles are not completely hacked with misinformation.

Finally, our little team of two probably won't have time to do all necessary changes, but we can at least focus on the introduction, add a section on critiques, add a plethora of references, talk about Catarina/Leo, and link to the resolutions and talk about the evolution of the rights. We can add other ideas to the talk page.

If you hear of anyone else interested in the same topic, just send them our way.
muench - 16 Mar 2017 17:12
Re: Improving the page on "Right to water" (human right to water and sanitation) on Wikipedia
Hi Abby,

I have put the title change process in motion, see the tag here at the very bottom of the talk page:

It also shows up here now:
If there are no objections the move should be complete at the latest 7 days from now.

I agree with you that the talk page of the article on "right to water" is surprisingly sparce. Let's change that!

I suggest that you group your contributions on the talk page by structuring it with a few headers. Or you could provide a bullet point list of planned changes which you put under a heading like this:

== Major overhaul on the occasion of World Water Day March 2017 ==

Yes, the talk page is the right place for either announcing planned changes, or - if you run out of time later - for things that you think someone else should change but you don't have the time for right now. "Rome wasn't created in a day", and neither are these Wikipedia articles. They keep on improving over time thanks to people like you and all the other volunteers!

I am so happy that you're tackling this article and hope that by writing here on the forum we might get other SuSanA members interested to join you.


P.S. Yea, there is so much going on behind the scenes at Wikipedia! "Enclosed inter-web society" is an interesting term. It's all in the interest of quality assurance. Imagine how hard it must be to have good solid articles on Wikipedia on currently controversial topics like Syria, Islam, terrorist, Donald Trump, homosexuality, trans-gender ... Compared to that, our WASH topics are so much easier!
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